New Jersey Democrats have announced plans to introduce a bill legalizing same-sex marriage as they prepare to take control of the state Senate Tuesday, despite concerns within the party that Republican Gov. Chris Christie will ultimately veto the bill.
A similar bill was defeated in the Senate two years ago 20 to 14 with three lawmakers abstaining during then-Gov. Jon Corzine's administration. Democrats are hopeful this bill will pass comfortably this time through the Senate, due to the party’s majority and Senate President Steve Sweeney’s expressed support of the bill.
Recent changes to marriage law in New York championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo also has the bill’s supporters optimistic.
Christie, however, poses the biggest challenge and if the governor vetoes the bill, the Senate can override the measure by securing two-thirds support in both the Senate and Assembly.
“It’s gonna be a fight. We expect it to be a fight,’’ Sweeney said at a Monday press conference. “The governor’s a decent person and I think we can work on educating him to the fact of what it means.”
Although he is now placing full support behind the bill, Sweeney abstained from voting two years ago – a decision that helped defeat the bill. Sweeney, a Roman Catholic, said he has changed his mind that same-sex marriage is a civil issue, not a religious one.
Among groups against the bill are the National Organization for Marriage, the New Jersey Knights of Columbus and the New Jersey Family Policy Council (NJFPC).
NJFPC issued a statement on its website in opposition of the bill, saying same-sex marriage is a slippery moral slope.
“The homosexual view of marriage as a loving, committed relationship is a redefinition of marriage, not an extension of it,” the statement read.
“If the state of New Jersey accepts the argument that people in homosexual relationships are entitled to marriage benefits based on the argument of ‘equal treatment under the law,’ what is to stop them from giving those same benefits to self-described long-term committed polygamists, incestuous couples or even adult/child couples who ‘pay taxes and participate in the community?’ ” the statement asked.
Christie has not stated whether he will oppose or approve the measure, but experts believe there is little reason to believe he will change his mind and allow same-sex marriage in New Jersey, citing his need to appeal to the conservative base as he becomes increasingly part of the national arena.